With business school admissions becoming more competitive, you may be wondering what you need to do to enter the college of your choice. You may also know you want to get an MBA, but haven't yet decided on a school. Since MBA programs differ on their core prerequisite requirements, you can prepare for different schools and for a career in business by taking the common prerequisite courses.
Many MBA programs do not require a set of prerequisite courses prior to admission; rather, they require the newly admitted student to take these classes within the MBA program before beginning core coursework. A minority, however, do have prerequisite course requirements. For prerequisite requirements for a particular business school, you can visit that school's admissions criteria section on its website.
Many schools require various forms of math, economics, and statistics as prerequisite courses. Many also require a marketing course and a management course. Schools that require math prerequisites generally require at least two semesters of calculus, and at least an introductory statistics course. Like the Kellogg School of Management -- rated the fourth best business school in the nation by Bloomberg as of 2010 -- many MBA programs require linear algebra, advanced econometrics and intermediate microeconomics. These can include courses such as financial economics, basic marketing, corporate finance and principles of marketing. You may also need to fulfill a basic English or reading and composition course. For all prerequisites, you usually must have a passing grade of C- or higher.
Unlike medical school, many business schools do not require prerequisite courses. Harvard, Wharton and Booth Business Schools are rated the top three business schools in the nation by Bloomberg, but they do not have any course prerequisite admission requirements. Rather, students at these schools and many other business schools are offered conditional admissions, meaning you are accepted in the program on the condition that you complete your prerequisites. In the majority of schools offering this arrangement, you can qualify for financial aid while taking these courses because you are a degree-seeking graduate student.
Some schools allow alternate avenues to fulfilling prerequisite requirements. You may be able to take competency exams to show your knowledge of these areas or take associated College-Level Examination Program exams through the College Board. To prepare to fulfill your prerequisite requirements this way, take the necessary courses at the undergraduate level or go through an "MBA Boot Camp" to learn all of the prerequisite knowledge. Boot camps are offered online and at various universities.
Other than the expected coursework, most business schools have basic requirements for the application. To apply, you usually need to take the GMAT, write an application essay and have the required number of letters of recommendation. Many schools, like the Chicago Booth Business School, also expect candidates to have at least two years of work experience prior to admission. This is not a requirement, but Booth Business School states that admitted students generally have two to nine years of work experience prior to enrollment.
Knowing in Advance if Your Coursework Will Count
Since many equivalent courses at different institutions have different names, you need to know whether the courses you took qualify for prerequisite fulfillment. In most MBA programs, you must first ensure that your course qualifies for the same number of units as the business school's prerequisite course. Check also if your business school requires that you completed the coursework within a certain time period before enrollment. In most cases, you can check if your course will transfer by Assist.org, a website most universities accept and utilize in determining equivalency between courses (see Resources).